Keeping your dog hydrated is an important part of every hike. A hydrated dog is at less risk of fatigue and overheating. But with so many dog hiking water bowls and bottles on the market, how do you choose the best one?
We have tested 5 different styles of portable dog hiking water bowls and bottles. From the most lightweight to the bottles that conserve the most water, which bowl you choose will depend on your adventure.
- Auto Dog Mug: A Squeeze-Style Dog Hiking Water Botle (4.4 oz) – Great for the car and when water conservation is important
- Handi Drink: A Bottle in a Dog Hiking Water Bowl (4.3 oz) – Our favorite all-in-one options for day hikes
- Rubber Collapsible Dog Hiking Water Bowl (2.1 oz) – A good option for day hikes or backpacking. This bowl also has the benefit of being very easy to wash
- Fabric Collapsible Dog Hiking Water Bowl(1.9 oz) – A nice option for day hikes or backpacking, this bowl is relatively lightweight and easy to pack.
- Plastic Ziplock Dog Hiking Water Bowl(0.4 oz) – Not quite as durable as the other bowls on this list, but this is the lightest option by a significant amount.
That’s the short review of 5 common styles of dog hiking water bowls. Below you will find our detailed review of each bowl. And the best part is that all of these bowls cost $15 or less per bowl!
Auto Dog Mug: A Squeeze-Style Dog Hiking Water Bottle
This bottle/bowl combination is the heaviest of all the styles of dog hiking water bowls that we own. This bottle weighs in at 4.4oz (before water is added). As a result, we never pack it for our backpacking trips. However, there are some key features that make it perfect for a day hike or car drive.
This 20z bottle is designed to fit into a standard cup-holder (whether in your car or on your hiking daypack). It also comes with a velcro strap that can be attached to your backpack or other hiking gear to secure the bottle while you hike.
The bottle operates with a dish-spout that is attached to a straw that extends to the base of the water bottle. When you squeeze the bottle, water is pushed up into the bowl. When you release pressure, the water is sucked back down into the bottle.
The Squeeze: Pro or Con?
This pressure associated release of water is both what we love and hate about this water bottle. The con to this style of a water bottle is that you have to squeeze the water bottle the entire time your dog is drinking. For a short couple of sips, this is fine. But if your dog is really thirsty, this can feel like a long time to hold and squeeze.
On the plus side though, this bottle wastes the least amount of water compared to any other set up on this list. If your dog only wants two laps of water, then the rest will just be sucked back in. If you hike with your dogs with a traditional style bowl, you will understand the frustration of carrying water around while you hike, pouring some out for your dog, having your dog not drink any of it, and then having to waste the water (hopefully the local plants at least appreciate it). This bottle eliminates that problem.
This water bottle/bowl is also great in the car. Leaving a semi-full dog water bowl on the floor or seat is a real risk for spilled water in your car. Having a dog bowl that fits in a cup-holder and sucks any unused water back into the bottle is super handy on a car trip.
At the time of writing this post, this dog water bottle was listed on Amazon for $14.99.
Handi-Drink: A Bottle in a Dog Hiking Water Bowl
The water bottle and bowl combination that we most frequently day-hike with, is the Handi-Drink. This water bottle and bowl combination allows me to pack a separate water source for the dogs. It is also very easy to use, just squeeze some water into the bowl for the dogs to enjoy.
We don’t normally leave the bottle attached while the dogs are drinking (as pictured below). The attached bottle makes the bowl a tip-hazard. And if the bowl tips all that water is wasted. Instead, we will remove the bottle from the bowl, squeeze water into the bowl, and hold the water bottle while the dogs drink, refilling as needed.
The weight and size of this water bottle/bowl combination is very similar to that of the Auto Dog Mug. The big difference is that the bowl is detachable from the water bottle and a dog can use this bowl without a human holding it. However, less conveniently, if you want to get the unused water from the bowl back into the bottle, you will have to pour it back it yourself. This can result in more wasted water, as I often spill some while pouring.
Wasting water may matter on a long hot summer hike or if you are driving in the car and have nowhere to repurpose the extra water. But for us, most times the dogs will finish the large majority of the water offered and we can dump the few remaining drops into the grass on the side of the trail.
Personally, I find that the small amount of wasted water spilled when pouring from the bowl back into the bottle is minor compared to the benefit not needing to squeeze the bottle the entire time your dog is drinking. Which frees up your hands to be getting out snacks, finding your own water bottle, or snapping a quick picture of the natural beauty around you.
The Handi-Drink dog hiking water bottle and bowl can currently be found on Amazon for $6.09.
Rubber Collapsible Dog Hiking Water Bowl
We have obtained a couple of versions of this style of dog bowl over the last year. A few different companies have begun giving them out at veterinary conferences. As a result, we don’t have a specific brand name to recommend. But we can talk about this style of dog bowl in general.
These bowls are excellent additions to a day pack when you are carrying water for you and your dog to share. For example, if we only need one water bottle to split between us for a short day hike. Or when I hike with my hydration pack that can easily hold enough water for both me and the dogs on day-hikes.
These bowls are also worthwhile to consider for a backpacking trip. The collapsible nature of these bowls means that they take up minimal space. Both of the collapsible bowls we have are just over 2oz in weight. One weighs 2.1oz and the other weighs 2.2oz. Those weights include the carabiner, so if you are backpacking and conscious of weight, you could always remove the carabiner.
Another pro to this style of dog bowl is that the plastic material makes these bowls very easy to clean. And once you’ve wiped out the water, these bowls make perfect dog food dishes also.
Amazon has several different brands available for purchase between $6-$11 for 1-2 packs of this style of dog bowls.
Fabric Collapsible Dog Hiking Water Bowl
Our original dog hiking water bowl was a fabric version of a collapsible dog bowl. This bowl was easy to bring on long day-hikes and overnight backpacking trips. It is lightweight. Ours has a zipper and a small plastic carabiner and still only weighs 1.9oz.
It is sturdy and durable and Glia has never had any trouble drinking out of it. However, the biggest con of this style is that when you fold it up, any remaining water that didn’t shake out after use is folded up inside the bowl. This makes the bowl difficult to dry out if you are using it frequently. We have never had any problems with mold or odor, but it is a consideration with a fabric water bowl.
We couldn’t find a youtube video reviewing the same style of fabric water bowl as we have. But this one is pretty close and gives you an idea of how the fabric bowls work. The bowl in the video below retails on Amazon for around $11.00.
If you like the zipper and clip features that our bowl has, check out these Ayada bowls which are very similar to ours. The Ayada bowls can also be found on Amazon. A 2-pack is $11.99, making each bowl approximately $6.
Plastic Ziplock-Style Dog Hiking Water Bowl
Our final style of dog hiking water bowl is a simple thin plastic bowl, almost like a sturdy ziplock bag. This is another dog water bowl style that we acquired at a veterinary conference. At first, I thought this bowl seemed cheap and flimsy. Little did I know it would become my go-to dog bowl for backpacking with the dogs.
This little dog bowl only weighs 0.4oz. This means you could carry 4 of these for the same weight as just one collapsible bowl, whether fabric or silicone. This bowl easily folds up to fit in Glia’s backpack. Or I can just slide it into one of the exterior pockets on mine.
You can see in the video below, that if you purchase these bowls from Modgy, they may come with a lightweight water bottle also. We don’t have one of these and don’t really need one, as I typically pour water from my hydration pack for Glia during backpacking trips.
I have offered Glia both food and water from this style of bowl and she has not had any trouble eating or drinking from it.
I do feel that this dog bowl will breakdown faster than the other styles. However, at only $13.95 for a 2-pack (price found on Amazon), I am willing to purchase back-ups in order to save us the weight while out on the trail. For those of you that backpack with your dog, I know that you understand the challenge of packing all the extras your dog needs and still keeping the weight down.
Summary of Pros and Cons of the Different Styles of Dog Hiking Water Bowls
The Auto Dog Mug is the most car friendly. It fits in a cup holder and there is no need to dump out and waste any water. Just be prepared to squeeze the bottle the entire time your dog is drinking.
The Handi-Drink water bottle/bowl combination is the best stand-alone water container. No need to pack a separate water source. Everything you need for your dog is right there. Just squeeze water from the bottle into the bowl and let your dog lap up the water hands-free.
The plastic/silicone collapsible dog water dish is relatively lightweight, durable, and easy to clean. When you already have a water source, this is a great addition to any dog owner’s day pack.
The fabric dog dish is easy to pack into small spaces. It holds its shape nicely while dogs are drinking or eating. Just make sure that you let this dish dry out before packing it into storage.
The plastic ziplock-style dog bowl is the most lightweight. Weighing 1.5oz less than the next bowl on this list, it is a no-brainer to pick this bowl when weight is an issue. The trade-off of keeping weight down is that this bowl is a bit more flimsy than the others on this list.
Regardless of which bowl you choose, make sure you bring water and a way for your dog to drink that water along on each and every hike. Keeping your dog hydrated is one of the best ways to keep your hiking partner healthy for years to come.
Related Topics and Questions
How much water should a dog drink on a hike? Dogs can drink between 0.5 to 1.5 oz of water per pound per day. So for Glia, who is 40 pounds, this could be between 20 to 60 oz of water. When hiking, error on the high side of the range to ensure that your dog stays hydrated. Especially if it is a warm day outside.
If we are just day-hiking for a couple of hours, I often pack 15-20oz of water for Glia. But if we will be backpacking for 24 hours without other available water sources, we bring the full 60oz + a little extra just in case. Since this adds a lot of weight, we try to plan our hikes to include a water source near our campsite.
How far can a dog hike? The average dog can happily hike 2-3 miles without any specific conditioning. A dog that has been well-conditioned and trained can hike for 20+ miles. But if your dog has health concerns or is overweight, consult with your veterinarian about how far your individual dog can hike.
How much weight can a dog carry? We referenced backpacking with dogs and the weight of these dog-hiking bowls several times in this article. You may now be wondering, how much weight a dog can carry. There is no official rule, but most experts recommend that a dog carries than 20% of his or her body weight. Some experienced backpackers (like those behind our favorite Groundbird Gear Dog Backpack), recommend 10% or less of your dog’s body weight.